What do we need to do to see the end of racism?

During the past couple of week the ugly specter of racism and bigotry has been making headlines in both the United Kingdom and the United States. While it shouldn’t be something that surprises me, racism I mean, the mere fact that it still exists still shocks me. In this day and age, where the world is truly linked in countless ways, you’d think that people have moved away from some of their prehistoric instincts but I’m constantly getting a reality check.

In the UK, a 34 year old woman called Emma West, is currently in court for spewing racist nonsense on a train. The bile that came from the woman’s mouth  while addressing one of the black passengers, included tidbits of ‘wisdom’ such as, and you must forgive me for not writing the swear words,  “you’re in my country now. . Don’t ——- talk your —-. Talk my language, —- —-. “Talk my ——- language. You’re in my country now, you’re in my ——- country now. Talk my ——- language.”Don’t talk you language, talk my language you —- —-.”Don’t sit here and look at me like I’m a —-.

This tirade would’ve been just be one of ‘those things’ that are forgotten if not for one enterprising passenger, who recorded the entire episode on their camcorder and uploaded the video to the YouTube social media website under the title ‘My Tram Experience’.  This video has had over nine million views so far.

But crazy people on trains are part and parcel of ‘rail’ travel I guess, so I will let the incident slide.  But another scandal in Kentucky has truly got my goat. A church, of all places, has voted to ban interracial couples from attending Sunday services and any church activity except for funerals. This vote was a result of former pastor, Melvin Thompson’s crusade against miscegenation  (mixing of different racial groups through marriage, cohabitation, sexual relations, and procreation).

Thompson’s move sprung from a church service in June attended by Stella Harville, aged 24, and her Zimbabwean fiance Ticha Chikuni, 29. Harville played piano, accompaniing Chikuni as he sang the hymn ‘I Surrender All’.

According to the Guardian newspaper, on 7 August, Thompson, still pastor at that point, approached Stella’s father, Dean Harville, who holds office as the secretary and treasurer of the church. “Thompson told me that Stella and her boyfriend were not allowed to sing in the church anymore,” Dean Harville said. Stella’s mother, Cathy Harville, confronted Thompson and asked him who precisely had a problem with the couple. “I, for one, do,” Thompson replied. “The best thing that Stella can do is take her boyfriend back to where he came from.”

This scandal has raised quite a bit of dust in Obama’s America, but one must remember that federal laws against miscegenation finally bit the dust as recently as 1967 when, in a landmark case known as Loving v. Virginia, the remaining anti-miscegenation laws were held to be unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court. The only reason that the church isnt in more trouble is that anti-segregation laws don’t apply to churches.

Fellow countrymen and women, don’t for even one second dare to point fingers at our Western brethren and pretend that racism is something that they monopolize. I personally have many friends from all over the world and as such, I spend a lot of time with them. Racism doesn’t really rear its ugly head when I’m with male friends but heaven help me if I’m seen out with foreign women or even worse, dating them. Having done the latter and heard peoples snide remarks, I have to say that Rwandans aren’t much better than Westerners. I’ve had relatives and friends tell me things along the lines of “whatever you do, don’t get married to a foreigner” and what not.

The issue of racism isnt a black and white issue; it isnt about ‘we’ colored people being victims and ‘white’ people being perpetrators; if we continue to pretend that it is, we shall never be able to slay this monster. Everyone and I mean everyone, should look deep into their hearts and be honest about their prejudices. Only then will we be able to leave to our children a world where “they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”, as Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed.

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